Renovated Ritchie Hall To Be Rededicated on Oct. 9

Return to Issue of Oct. 5, 2009

Oscar Ritchie

A hub of academic and cultural diversity at Kent State University has received a makeover, and members of the university and community are invited to see the new look. After a two-year, $10.4 million renovation project, Ritchie Hall will be rededicated on Oct. 9.

As part of the hall’s dedication, building tours will be conducted from 1 to 3 p.m. The official program starts at 4 p.m. in the African Community Theatre located in the building. Speakers include Kent State President Lester A. Lefton; Tim Moerland, dean of Kent State’s College of Arts and Sciences; and Ed Cooke, Kent State graduate and successful lawyer based in Washington, D.C.

“Ritchie Hall is a special place for many students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members,” Lefton says. “It is a community place for cultural, artistic and educational opportunities and endeavors that supports and fosters cultural diversity and inclusion. The renovation of the hall is truly remarkable, and both the Kent State community and the community at large will benefit from this building’s transformation.”

Following the program, guests will move to the front entrance of Ritchie Hall for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and a reception will take place in the hall’s Multipurpose Room. The event is free and open to the public.

Built in 1947, Ritchie Hall is named in honor of the first African-American professor employed in Ohio’s higher education system. The hall houses the Department of Pan-African Studies and affiliated student organizations, the Uumbaji Art Gallery, the Center for Pan-African Culture and the African Community Theatre.

Renovations of the hall include new faculty offices; a faculty commons area with a workroom, kitchenette and lounge; an updated computer laboratory; a resource center with library materials and audiovisual capabilities; a multipurpose room; student lounge areas, including a student organization commons; and flat-panel television screens in hallways to showcase artwork and provide updates to students. Additional entranceways to the African Community Theatre have been added as well as a theatre office, green room for actors and a canopy outside the rear entrance to the theatre.

In addition, five new classrooms and a large lecture hall are each equipped with teaching centers that include a DVD, CD and VCR player, computer and document camera. The entire three-level building has wireless Internet access. At the lower level, three new classrooms and gallery/study space have newly added window wells, allowing natural light to enter. The Uumbaji Art Gallery now has a glass front wall, student lounge and study area, storage space, a visiting artist’s studio and a photo laboratory. The gallery will feature pieces of West African art on loan from the collection of Ron Pizutti, chair of the university’s Centennial Campaign.

Return to Issue of Oct. 5, 2009

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